American Airlines Discounts AAnytime Awards to Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong

Jul 31, 2019

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Although it will soon be the last legacy airline with an award chart, American Airlines is inching closer to dynamic award pricing through married-segment award availability and discount programs.

For example, while it was originally launched as a “discount” program, AA has effectively used Economy Web Specials to transition its domestic economy awards to a completely dynamic pricing scheme.

Then in May 2019, AA launched an AAnytime business class award sale to Europe. Rather than opening up MileSAAver availability at 57,500 miles each way or charging a hefty 110,000 miles for AAnytime Level 1 awards, AA offered business class awards for 85,000 miles each way.

Now, American Airlines is back with another one of these quasi-dynamic award pricing schemes that it’s framing as a mileage sale. Through August 12, American Airlines has discounted economy, premium economy and business class AAnytime awards between the continental US and Asia — including both Asia Region 1 (Japan, South Korea) and Asia Region 2 (China, Hong Kong) — for flights into December 2019.

Although this sale isn’t being advertised, I was able to piece together the following pricing breakdown from award searches and confirm these rates with an American Airlines spokesperson:

Continental US-Japan/Korea Economy Premium
Discounted Rate (one-way) 47,500 57,500 82,500
AAnytime Level 1 62,500 80,000 120,000
Discount off AAnytime Level 1 24% 28% 31%

Continental US-China/Hong Kong Economy Premium
Discounted Rate (one-way) 47,500 67,500 87,500
AAnytime Level 1 65,000 85,000 140,000
Discount off AAnytime Level 1 27% 21% 38%

Unfortunately, this discount only applies to when American Airlines has coded an award option as AAnytime Level 1. There’s still plenty of days where the award rates are much higher, as we can see on AA’s nonstop route between Los Angeles and Hong Kong:

While these discounts may sound appealing, it’s important to put this in context. At current TPG valuations, 47,500 miles are valued at $665 each way — or $1,330 worth of points for round-trip. That’s substantially higher than some of the recent deals we’ve seen recently, even before you factor in the taxes/fees on the award.

Premium economy awards start at 57,500 miles each way. That’s around $805 of value for the one-way award before adding taxes/fees. Just a few days ago, there were premium economy round-trip flights to Asia starting at $805 round-trip — and you’ll earn miles on these flights.

Considering how hard it is to find MileSAAver awards in business class on AA, the discount on AAnytime business class awards is going to like be the most useful. Standard AAnytime rates of 120,000 miles (US-Asia 1) and 140,000 miles (US-Asia 2) each way are excessive, and the discounted rates of 82,500 miles and 87,500 miles are a lot more reasonable.

However, this relative reasonableness has a downside. If AA’s only choice besides releasing MileSAAver awards at 60,000 are AAnytime awards at 120,000, it’s not going to sell that many AAnytime awards and will need to resort to releasing saver availability eventually to fill the cabin. Now, by offering awards at an intermediate rate, it may sell enough business class awards that it doesn’t need to release saver award availability.

Featured image by JT Genter / TPG

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